Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Black History Heroines -The Union Spy Mary Elizabeth Bowser

Bowser is one of many African-American female spies who worked for the Union during the Civil War, yet her works are hardly known to us today. The U.S. government honored Bowser for her work in the Civil War with an induction into the Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame in Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

Bowser was the source of the most crucial information because as he wrote in his journal, "she was working right in the Davis home and had a photographic mind. Everything she saw on the Rebel President's desk, she could repeat word for word. Unlike most colored, she could read and write. She made a point of always coming out to my wagon when I made deliveries at the Davis home to drop information." (quoted in Waitt, Thomas McNiven Papers.)

There was enough information for Bowser to write a journal chronicling her wartime efforts. The journal, too, is lost to us today because her family members mistakenly discarded it in 1952. The Bowser family rarely discussed their work because of the postwar climate in Richmond and attitudes towards Union sympathizers. There is no record of Mary Bowser's post-war life and no date of death.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Bowser

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1 comment:

arthur said...

Found a little more info here:

I liked this: .. in January 1865, as the war was coming to a close, Mary Bowser fled from Richmond... Jefferson Davis is known to have suspected a leak from the Confederate White House, and some think that Mary's work as a spy had finally become suspected. Before she left, Mary reportedly attempted to burn down the Confederate White House, but was unsuccessful..

A brave woman.